I thought I'd finished my post to sum up my 2008, but then I read the marvellous Claire's 2008 sum-up and she reminded me of something very important. So I've ditched my original post and wrote the following instead!
It is so important to be positive. In fact, it is essential. It's easy to be negative and dwell on sad things and stumble into the dark and lonely forest of "why me?". It takes a lot more strength to focus on the positive things, to be thankful for every blessing in your life, however small. And really, while it has been a very tough year for me, when I think of what some of my friends and family have been through in 2008, I really do have so much to be thankful for.
So here is my 2008, things I loved and enjoyed and am grateful for:
♥ My first trip to Dublin, with TS - seeing the Writers Museum, experiencing the utter bliss of the extravagant hot chocolates from Butler's, and doing a little roadtrip together to Shannon;
♥ Discovering The Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden, and meeting up again with a dear friend;
♥ A trip to Hamburg where I revelled in my first snow storm since 1986, and realised that my schoolgirl German is actually very adequate!
♥ Making immense progress with my novel - it is so far from where I was last year. I also made contact with the nephew of one of my main characters (based on, anyway!) which has enriched the manuscript no end;
♥ For the first five months of 2008 I was living in a writer's loft in North West London, where I could hear the owls hooting well into the night and where I was woken every morning by the sun;
♥ Moving to North London and enjoying domestic bliss with TS :)
♥ Having a wild girls weekend in Prague with some dear friends, which included an accidental stumble into a strip club (!) and crashing a stag party;
♥ My parents coming to London to visit - the highlight of the year! We had an amazing time. I loved showing them my favourite spots in London, and we also went on a little trip to Ireland, where Mum and Dad got to see Cong (the setting of The Quiet Man) and taste real Guinness;
♥ Getting a poem accepted in Trespass!
♥ Doing my first ever poetry reading (and so chuffed at how many people showed up to see me, including an old school friend from Hobart I hadn't seen for 12 years!);
♥ Seeing The Waifs live at Shepherds Bush Empire;
♥ Writing an article with a friend for the Student BMJ and getting it published, and then having it reworked for the BMJ itself! Very exciting!
♥ Finishing two short stories, and sending one off (the other is still being edited);
♥ Seeing De Profundis at the NT, and Speed The Plow at the Old Vic. I saw no where near as much theatre as I wanted to this year, but I hope to remedy that in 2009;
♥ Celebrating a one year anniversary with TS - we couldn't decide whether our anniversary was the day we met or the day we had our first date (one week apart) so we celebrated both!
♥ Finishing two other poems that I'm very proud of, and sending them off to two magazines;
♥ A long weekend in Amsterdam with a girlfriend, where I finally fulfilled a long held ambition to see The Secret Annexe (Anne Frank House). I also discovered a passion for stroopwafl!
♥ Taking TS to Paris for his birthday and discovering why Paris is called The City of Love ;) Also had the best icecream I have ever had in my life!
♥ Getting a UK drivers licence!
♥ Many catchups with the lovely Ivy when she's been in London! I wonder if she has any idea how much she inspires me...
♥ Getting a pay rise and a permanent contract at work;
♥ Lovely weekends away to various parts of the UK, including York (where we got snow) and Portsmouth;
♥ Starting Green Ink! You guys have made me so happy with all your interest and support! Thank you so much :)
♥ Discovering so many new writers, all of whom have inspired me and influenced my writing in some way;
♥ Deepening my yoga practice and my commitment to it. A few weekends ago I went to a course at the North London Buddhist Centre, which was truly eyeopening and has given my ideas of how I want to practice and learn more going forward;
♥ Being in the audience for a taping of one of my favourite shows, The IT Crowd!
♥ Celebrated my first proper Guy Fawkes Day!
♥ A wonderful trip to Brussels with two dear friends to see the Christmas markets, drink Kwak, eat chocolate and see puppets!!
♥ Christmas in Wales with TS and his parents - the highlight of which was getting a fountain pen, with a bottle of green ink(!) from my darling TS. I've wanted one since I was ten.
♥ Learning how to use Skype! My homesickness has eased considerably being able to see my parents, sisters and nephews when I speak to them.
Wow, that actually really worked! Prior to writing this I had convinced myself that 2008 was a bit of a write-off for me! But in reality I did quite a bit, and had quite a lot of fun, despite everything!
Maybe that was my problem. I spent so much of 2008 focusing on negative things, things I didn't have or hadn't accomplished. There was plenty of fun and happy stuff right in front of my nose all that time, and I've only just realised it, on December 31st.
But there is so much to look forward to in 2009. It is absolutely simmering with hope and possibility. Travel. Writing. Adventures. New projects. Moving house. Reunions with family and friends. A wedding (not mine!). Babies (again, not mine, but I'm excited nonetheless!). More writing. Laughter. Art. Theatre. So many plans that I hope will see me heading in the right direction. I can hardly wait for the year to get here so I can dive right in!
TS's mother has a lovely quote stuck up on the wall of her cellar, which I noticed while we were there at Christmas. It is my wish and prayer for 2009:
Let there beAnd a complete first draft of my novel and a few acceptances from literary journals would be good as well!
respect for the earth,
peace for its people,
love in our lives,
delight in the good,
forgiveness for past wrongs
and from now on, a new start.
Happy 2009, dear Green Ink readers. May it be everything you're hoping for.
See you next year.